Sleepless in School

High schoolers across America are not getting enough sleep, threatening school performance.

Abby Fowler, Copy Editer

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The teenage years are vital for the development of our bodies and minds. The Nationwide Children’s Hospital says that adolescents need 9-9.5 hours of sleep each night. However, according to researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 73% of teenagers in America aren’t getting enough.

Many factors can impact a high schooler’s amount of sleep including after-school activities, jobs, family responsibilities, and homework. Kailey Mackin, junior, gets 5 to 6 hours of sleep on the average weekday.

“I’m doing stuff with the jazz band that requires me to be [here] at 8 am but my dad has a really hard time dropping me off,” explained Mackin, “so I have to be here at 6:30 am because it’s the only time he can drop me off.”

After school, Mackin is involved with show choir and jazz choir. She doesn’t go home between the end of the school day and the beginning of rehearsals and finally gets home around 8:30 pm.

“Some days I’m so tired in class that I don’t pay as much attention as I should,” said Mackin.

Like Mackin described, a lack of sleep can easily impact a student’s performance in school. This may include impairment of one’s attention span, mood, behavior, judgment, and cognitive ability. Upon that, memories and information in our mind are consolidated and solidified when we sleep according to the Division of Sleep Medicine by Harvard Medical School. This consolidation is essential for learning as it allows old information to be recalled and new information to be gained.

For students with a license, driving while sleep deprived runs a higher risk of accidents. Being tired makes it hard to pay attention to the road and leads to a slow reaction time, two things that can be fatal for drivers, especially those without much experience. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that drowsy driving was responsible for 72,000 crashes in 2013.

Furthermore, lack of sleep can affect students’ health. According to the CDC, adolescents who don’t get the proper amount of sleep are also at increased risk for conditions such as diabetes, obesity, and poor mental health.

Although it may not fit into the schedule of some individuals, it is important to develop good sleeping habits in order to benefit daily health. This includes going to bed at a reasonable time and sticking to a sleep schedule, even on the weekends.

People who procrastinate sleep with social media or TV shows should know that the use of electronics before bed makes it harder to get shut-eye. The blue light emitted by these devices suppresses the production of melatonin, the hormone that induces sleep. However, many electronics now have a setting to emit yellow light instead of sleep-depriving blue light. Switching a device to this yellow light setting, titled “night shift” on Apple products, can benefit your sleep. If your devices don’t have this yellow light mode, it’s best to avoid them before bedtime altogether.

Individuals who have trouble falling asleep may want to look into aromatherapy, the use of scents to improve physical and mental well-being. The scent of lavender helps to relax the body and induces sleep. This can be achieved by putting a few drops of lavender essential oil on a pillow or burning a lavender candle.

Meditation or listening to peaceful noises can also calm the mind and body down enough for sleep. The website and app ‘Calm’, along with many others, offer free white noise and guided meditations. Relaxing noises and meditation sessions are also available on YouTube.

Though the responsibilities may catch up to many, it’s important to stay mindful of sleep in order to improve the day-to-day wellness of life.